A week in Scottish politics: 8 to 14 March 2013


Reform Scotland’s round-up of comment and analysis pieces we have referred to in media summaries between 8 and 14 March, which are freely available online.

Thursday 14 March

Pope Francis: Tom Devine in the Scotsman, John Haldane in the Scotsman, Tom Devine in the Herald, Ann Widdecombe in the Express, and Lizzie Davies in the Guardian comment on the news that the conclave of cardinals in Rome elected Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as the new Pope.  He has chosen the name Pope Francis and is the first Jesuit and the first person from South America to be Pope.

Independence debate: Michael Kelly in the Scotsman comments that Sir Tom Farmer is wrong to seek to postpone debate on a number of the consequences of independence until just before the referendum.

Budget: Iain MacWhirter in the Herald and Chris Giles in the FT speculate ahead of next week’s budget statement.

Minimum pricing in England & Wales: John Gapper in the FT comments on reports that the coalition government is to drop plans to introduce a minimum price for alcohol south of the Border.

Children’s potential: Peter Peacock in the Scotsman comments that too many children from disadvantaged backgrounds don’t have the opportunity to reach their full educational potential, and that the recommendations contained in the Commission on School Reform’s final report could help address this problem.

Wednesday 13 March

Votes for 16 and 17-year-olds: John Curtice in the Scotsman and Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph comment on the Scottish Referendum (Franchise) Bill, that was published by the Scottish government this week and proposes allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the independence referendum.

Independent Scotland: Gus O’Donnell in the Scotsman sets out how he thinks an independent Scotland could achieve a sustainable economy.

Act of Union: Allan Massie in the Scotsman comments on the history of the Act of Union and Sir Walter Scott’s opinion of it.

Yes campaign: Gregor Gall in the Scotsman comments that voters need a compelling reason to vote for independence, and answers should focus around social justice

Ed Miliband: Mary Riddell in the Telegraph comments that Ed Miliband needs to be more pro-active rather than simply waiting for David Cameron to fail.

Budget: Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman comments on the challenges facing the Chancellor ahead of this year’s budget.

Austerity: Martin Wolf in the FT argues that the UK’s austerity is indefensible.

Tuesday 12 March

Independence and EU: Peter Jones writing in the Scotsman comments on Scotland’s relationship with the European Union and questions how an independent Scotland would become a member state.

Catholic Church: Tom Devine writing in the Scotsman comments on the struggles facing the Catholic Church in Scotland and encourages it to make a fresh start.

Act of Union: Paul Scott writing in the Scotsman refutes claims made in a document on the Scotland Office website that Scotland was extinguished by the Act of Union in 1707.

Oil boom: Joan McAlpine writing in the Daily Record comments on the prospect of second oil boom and the benefits it holds for an independent Scotland.

Spending cuts: Max Hastings writing in the Daily Mail comments on Liam Fox’s calls for a freeze on spending in a bid to tackle the national deficit.

Monday 11 March

Scottish Constitution: Writing in the Scotsman, Brian Monteith responded to proposals for a Scottish Constitution which would guarantee key economic, social and environmental rights. He notes that the Scottish government and the SNP is in no position to make these promises.

Sunday 10 March

Economic prospects: Writing in the Sunday Herald, Iain Macwhirter weighs in on the debates on Scotland’s economic prospects post-independence. Writing in Scotland on Sunday, Ronald Bowie of Hymans Robertson argues that independence would imperil both public and private sector pensions.

Independence and oil: Writing in the Sunday Herald, John Swinney outlines the case for a wealthier Scotland, an argument made on the basis of an oil boom which would allow for the funding of public services and the creation of a long-term oil fund. Also in the Sunday Herald, Ken Macintosh, shadow finance secretary for Scottish Labour, contrasts John Swinney’s leaked report with the public face of the party. In Scotland on Sunday, Eddie Barnes responds to the leaked report which emphasised the volatility of the oil markets.

Friday  8 March

Scottish Finances: Alan Cochrane reacts to Alex Salmond’s response to the so called ‘Swinneyleak’ that called into question Scotland’s financial ability to retain levels of public spending.